Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F which is better?

Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F which is better?

This Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F article that we are looking at today is not the first time I have put Sony in the ring with itself! Not too long ago I put together this Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-G700 which is better? article which was a lot of fun. Today, we are looking at two very different soundbars from Sony, so different that some people might say I am pretty crazy to be putting these two head-to-head! Still, as someone who is an unashamed Sony fanboy, I think that these being at different ends of the pricing spectrum makes them a very interesting comparison.

The Price:

I have to say that price is probably the most eye opening category in this Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F contest! The price difference here is pretty amazing, but these are both offering Dolby Atmos, but we are talking about a massive and I mean massive difference in terms of the pricing between these two. Ultimately, it is up to you if you feel that extra few hundred bucks is worth it.  

Sony HT-X8500:

Sony HTX8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar with Built-in subwoofer, Black

I have looked at the Sony HT-X8500 many times here on the site. Each time I mention how I always look on Amazon for this, but it has not been back in stock in months at this point! The best place that you can buy this right now is actually from Walmart of all places. They always seem to have this in stock and it is priced at $398 which for a Dolby Atmos soundbar I think is a truly fantastic price! Of course, you may want to look on eBay to see if you can get a deal, but the price for this tends to be anywhere from 350 to 420 bucks so you can save a little money if you are willing to shop around.

Sony HT-Z9F:

Sony Z9F 3.1ch Sound bar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer (HT-Z9F), Home Theater Surround Sound Speaker System for TV Black

The Sony HT-Z9F is currently priced at $898 which is no small chunk of change as we all know. This right now is the premium offering when it comes to soundbars from Sony. At the end of the day, this is like double the price of what they are asking for the HT-X8500! The thing is, Sony are giving you one of their best subwoofers with this so that I think does make the overall price much more reasonable. Also, when it comes to Dolby Atmos, this is currently the best of the best when it comes to Sony. As I always do here, I had a look on eBay to see if there were any deals and there were not many. I did find one that was closer to 800 bucks so if you are willing to be patient you can save a little bit of money.

The Verdict: I know that you may think that the Sony HT-X8500 has this one won easily. However, it is not as simple as that. I think that the Sony HT-Z9F is very comparable to stuff like the Sonos Arc and the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 in terms of what Sony are asking and in that regard the near 900 bucks is more than fair in my opinion. At the end of the day, you have to decide if you want the best of the best when it comes to Dolby Atmos. I think that for your average Joe, the X8500 will offer more than enough.

The Design:

Is there a company that makes better looking tech than Sony? I do not think there is and that is why design is my favorite category in this Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F fight! Sony no matter if it is their PlayStation 5 or one of their awesome TVs like their Sony X90J 65 Inch TV!.

Sony HT-X8500:

I know that this How to Setup the Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar video has the dude setting up, but you do get a great view of just how great this thing looks. I do not think I have not liked the look of a Sony soundbar and the Sony HT-X8500 stays true to that. What I love about this is that metal grill, this is a design that Sony has used for many of their higher end soundbars and it is something that is never going to go out of style if you ask me. The black design is just so Sony and I love it. The plastic that the majority of the soundbar is made from feels great and very high-quality, but there is one aspect of this soundbar that is rather “interesting” and that is the top. The top of this has this kind of fake leather covering which is stylish and makes it looks like something that would be in an 80s rock star house, but I do worry about it getting damaged or covered in dust.

Coming in at 6.75 x 37.25 x 6.25, the Sony HT-X8500 is a bit more compact than the HT-Z9F, mainly in the length department. This would look awesome sitting between the feet of a 55 inch TV like this Sony X80J 50 Inch TV for example. I think that the size of this is perfect for a TV in the 50 to 55 inch size as it would fit between the legs very nicely. Oh, one thing I have to mention is that Sony has made sure to have their logo right on the top. I always like to see that Sony logo on their products!

Is the back of the Sony HT-X8500 as sexy as the front? Well, Sony has made sure that you are taken care of in terms of the connection options that they are giving you with this soundbar. You can connect this to your TV with HDMI or optical, but you will have to use HDMI for Dolby Atmos so keep that in mind. You have a USB port here too which is neat if you ever need to install some kind of firmware update.

Sony HT-Z9F:

This Girlfriend Approved TV Setup! – Sony HT-Z9F Showcase video has to be one of my favorite showcases of the Sony HT-Z9F as it is a lot of fun but you still get to see how cool this thing is. Coming in at 44.5 x 23.7 x 9.5 inches, this is a fair bit larger than the HT-X8500 so you will need to make sure that it fits between the legs of your TV or that your TV unit can handle this bad boy. Sony does not have the weird fabric top like they do with the other soundbar. This is made with this very sleek and glossy black plastic that is just so cool! It is 100 percent a magnet for fingerprints and dust, but that is what cleaning wipes are for. Speaking of “magnet” that metal grill that covered the front is held in place with magnets which is a pretty cool feature. As soon as I took this out of the box, I knew that I was dealing with something very special.

Now the Sony HT-Z9F does also come with a subwoofer, so we need to take a look at that. This is a very well made subwoofer and it comes in at 7.4” x 15” x 15.1” inches so it is a nice size, but you do have to factor this in when you are deciding if you have the space for this. It is very well made and has a strong and solid feel to it. I really like the design too as it compliments the soundbar perfectly. It has a bit of that same glossy plastic design that the soundbar has and that is something I think is very cool.

Round the back of the Sony HT-Z9F, you have your connections. There are two HDMI in ports and an HDMI out. There is also an optical port as well, but who spends this much on a Dolby Atmos soundbar and then connects it with optical so they cannot use Dolby Atmos? Sony also has a USB port and an ethernet port on the back of here for you too. Overall, I think that Sony has done an excellent job with this soundbar and the subwoofer too.

The Verdict:

I have to say that I think the Sony HT-X8500 would probably win against most other soundbars that I have looked at over the last few years. However, the Sony HT-9ZF is just something else. I will say that the glossy finish part of it has may not be a style that everyone likes. However, for me, it is very sexy and I would rank this very high on my list of best looking soundbars of all time. Both of these soundbars look great, but I do prefer the design of the 9ZF more.

The Sound:

I would wager many people have zoomed straight to this category in our Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F. At the end of the day, these are both offering Dolby Atmos, but the big question is, does one of these need to be so much more expensive than the other. How much better is the sound the Z9F offers?

Sony HT-X8500: I have to say that when it comes to Dolby Atmos that the Sony HT-X8500 is not the best demonstration of what Dolby Atmos is all about. Still, even though I have been less than kind about this in the past, the more I have used this, the more I have come to appreciate what Sony has done with this soundbar.

I like this How To Experience Cinematic Sound in HT-X8500 |Sony Soundbar which was made by Sony as it explains how the Dolby Atmos effect of this soundbar works. I think that some movies really do sound amazing when pumped through this, Mad Max: Fury Road was not only an awesome reboot for the series, it makes great use of Dolby Atmos too and this soundbar really did the movie justice. I will say that the room is not filled with sound like some other Dolby Atmos soundbars I have tested, but for one that is under 500 bucks, it is impressive.

As the Sony HT-X8500 has a built-in subwoofer, it has a bit more kick in the bass department than I thought it would. I know that not everyone likes these movies, but I still think that the first Michael Bay Transformers Movie was good. It has great sound design too and the bass really does thump when you watch it with this soundbar. Clearly, you are not getting the same kind of bass you would with a dedicated subwoofer. However, I have used many soundbars that have a built-in subwoofer and I have to say that this is one of the best I have encountered.

The vocal clarity on offer from this is great, I have never used a Sony bar that did not excel in this regard and this one is no different. While I have seen the movie before, I watched the 4K version of Logan via this soundbar and was very impressed with how clear the vocal clarity was. Not only that, when the poop hit the fan and things got loud, it all blended together very well. I have to say that I think this does come close to offering that cinema sound that Sony claims it does. However, I do also have to be honest and say that it is not one of the top tier soundbars when it comes to Dolby Atmos.

I really do think that you get a nice cinema style sound with the Sony HTX8500. I know I was a bit down on this last time we looked at it, but the more time I have spent with this the more impressed I have become. You can tinker with the sound via some presets if you like too so you can get the sound just the way that you want it which is always something I like. It does also have Bluetooth connectivity which is always something I like to see.

Sony HT-Z9F: Before I even hooked up the Sony HT-Z9F I knew I was going to be in for a real treat! When it comes to Dolby Atmos, this is the best that Sony offers right now. I was floored when I first used this, I have watched a ton of movies through this and one that springs to mind is La La Land. The sound truly came at me from every angle. I am one of the people that will always say you cannot get surround sound without rear speakers; well, this is perhaps the closest you can get to it. It is very comparable with other higher end soundbars like the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 and the Sonos Arc which I mean in the most complimentary manner you could imagine. I was very impressed with the Dolby Atmos effect provided here. Even those who do not usually notice this kind of thing would notice a massive difference going from the HT-X8500 to this!

Ok, so I am cheating a bit here suggesting you check out this Sony HT-Z9F Soundbar: Experience the magic of Dolby video as they are using the Sony SA-RS3S Wireless Rear Speakers to get that full cinema experience, but it is well worth a watch. That video actually brings me to a movie I want to talk about and that is Venom. Now, I am not a massive fan of this movie, how do you do a Venom movie without Spider-Man? Well, it does sound great as it makes great use of Dolby Atmos, especially when Venom is talking. Speech in general when pumped through here is so clear. I really do not see anyone having an issue, it is not just clear voice, it is crystal clear voice. Oh, going back to Venom, I must say I enjoyed the sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage far more so check that out!

Of course, we cannot talk about the Sony HT-Z9F without talking about that subwoofer that comes with it. Sony have included a fantastic subwoofer here and I think that it really does make the asking price for this not ad at all. The extra bass and rumble it added to my living room when I was using this was very noticeable. There is a huge, massive step up from the internal subwoofer the HT-X8500 has to the subwoofer the HT-9ZF is offering. I cranked this thing up and it never skipped a beat!

The Verdict: There is nothing wrong at all with the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar when it comes to the sound it is offering. I would bet most people who have this love it and I can see why. The thing is, this is a tad unfair as the Sony HT-9ZF is the premium offering from Sony right now and it is a clear step up in every regard. Not just because it has a subwoofer, the Dolby Atmos, and everything about it is better. As much as I respect the X8500, this is an easy win for the Sony HT-Z9F.   

The Remote Control

Sony are one of the best around when it comes to a remote control so I am pretty pumped to get to work on this next category in our Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F showdown. Both of these are great remote controls and a prime example of why I am and always will be a Sony fanboy!

Sony HT-X8500: The Sony HT-X8500 does not disappoint when it comes to the remote control. This thing is fantastic, it gives you complete control over the soundbar and it has dedicated buttons for some of the major features that the soundbar has. This is quite a thin and sleek remote control as well and I do like the design. While it gives you complete control, it is not overloaded with buttons to make it complicated to use.

Sony HT-Z9F: Now this is a remote! The remote that comes with the Sony HT-Z9F is insane. This thing is stacked with buttons and the number of options that it gives you for getting the sound just the way you want is amazing. Of course, this does mean that those who are not too tech minded might find it a bit much. However, to be fair, Sony has made all the main functions very easy to find and play around with. This remote is quite large, but that is one of the things that I really like about it.

The Verdict: Both of these soundbars are bringing it with their remote controls. These are both fantastic! The one that comes with the HT-X8500 is awesome and gives you all you need. However, the Sony HT-Z9F is just insane in what its remote control is offering. This is my idea of an awesome remote so I have to give the win to the Z9F!

What Is In The Box?

Make sure you know exactly what you are getting as we take a gander at what you can expect in the boxes for these soundbars. I know some might think this is a weird category, but I feel when you are spending this amount of money, it is important to know what you are getting.

Sony HT-X8500: Well, it goes without saying that you of course get the actual Sony HT-X8500 soundbar. You also get your instructions, power cable, and remote control. They even give you a set of batteries which did actually surprise me. You get an HDMI cable, but there is not an optical cable included so you might want to buy a cheap one to have on standby just in case. In all, you get all you need inside this box. My only little complaint is that they could have given some kind of cleaning cloth to take care of that fake leather top. The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 has a glass top and Bose gives you a little cleaning cloth, I wish Sony did that here.

Sony HT-Z9F: As the Sony HT-Z9F comes with a subwoofer and the soundbar is pretty damn big, you need to know that this box is massive. It is also in a really weird L shape so if you are picking it up from the store, make sure you have room in your car. As well as the soundbar and the subwoofer, you also get your remote, instructions, power cables, and so on. Like the HT-X8500, you do not get an optical cable, you only get an HDMI, but to be fair to Sony as this is all about Dolby Atmos, I am not sure why anyone would buy this and use an optical cable with it.

The Verdict: This one has to be a draw as they both come with all you need to get started. I would just make sure you have some kind of cleaning cloth to take care of that fake leather top that the Sony HT-X8500 has. Also, another note about how massive the box for the Sony HT-Z9F is! Trust me, it is probably even bigger than you are imagining it is.

What Is The Better Soundbar?

Look there is no way that I could come to the end of this Sony HT-X8500 vs Sony HT-Z9F and say that as good as it is the Sony HT-X8500 is the winner. The is the Sony HT-Z9F clear winner here! It is the best soundbar that Sony offers right now and while I think that the X8500 is great at what it does. If it was me, I would probably save up that extra money and go for the Z9F. I know that the difference in money is massive, but I do feel that it is worth it. If you want that cinema style Dolby Atmos experience, you have to be willing to pay the price for it. I do like the Sony HT-X8500, but when compared to the Sony HT-Z9F, it honestly is not even close.

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